Picks and Pans Review: Fortune and Men's Eyes

UPDATED 04/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

Jennifer Hall

Somewhere about two minutes and 14 seconds into the fourth track on the second side of this album, Hall comes close to rendering an actual musical note. That's about as close as she gets to really singing. At her worst, she conjures up the specters of such dilettantish disco divas past as Raquel Welch. Some of her songs, too, can only be taken—and then barely—as parodies; how else to accept Car Wash, in which a wealthy young woman sings about dropping by the local car wash when she's bored because "nothing hits the spot/ Like the car wash guys/ Behind the parking lot"—and it doesn't sound as if they're there to discuss Vivaldi. Occasionally, though, the record has a whimsical charm. Hall, 29, daughter of actress Leslie Caron and Sir Peter Hall, director of Britain's National Theatre, tosses off her talk-singing with a dramatic flair that when not reminiscent of Raquel suggests something of Lauren Bacall. One or two songs show promise; of a ne'er-do-well boyfriend in No Good, she writes, "On your first day at work/ You were two weeks late." Producer Alan Tarney, who has worked with a-ha and Dream Academy, gussies up the tunes with dance-club grooves and engaging melodic twists, creating an enjoyable contrast between Hall's semidrone and the music's lightness. Ice Cream Days, about a woman's reunion with a girlhood playmate that Hall and Tarney wrote for the Bright Lights, Big City sound track, has a couple of nice sentimental moments. The overall effect is like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces have been squeezed into the wrong places to make them fit. There was clearly effort put into the project. It's not uninteresting. It's just not what it is supposed to be. (Warner Bros.)

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